Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 103-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
— This matchup proves the Sixers play to the level of their competition. They looked good for three quarters against Heat, seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference, before holding on to win. However, they lost to the woeful Brooklyn Nets.
— Justin Anderson deserves more minutes. The Sixers reserve swingman finished with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting in 11 minutes, 35 seconds of action as the 10th man off the bench. His one negative was foul shooting (1-for-4). However, he made a lot happen while the other four reserves combined for just 12 points.
— The Sixers still can’t play with a huge lead. They nearly blew a commanding 28-point fourth-quarter advantage. Some might point to their having several reserves in the game. However, things kept unraveling no matter who was on the floor. It’s like they go into complete panic mode in the fourth quarter.
— The much-anticipated Joel Embiid and Hassan Whiteside matchup never materialized. Embiid finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds while mostly squaring up against Heat reserve post player Bam Adebayo. Whiteside, meanwhile, only played 5:50 after intermission — all in the third quarter.
— Jerryd Bayless is now an afterthought. The veteran combo guard was looked upon to provide instant offense from the bench at the start of the season. However, he didn’t play in Wednesday’s loss at the Nets. Bayless played 12:15 Friday in large part because Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was sidelined with gastroenteritis.
“Best” and “worst” awards
— Best performance: It would be hard to not give this award to Embiid even on a night when he made seven of 17 shots. The center powered the Sixers to victory, scoring seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. He also had team highs of 11 points and three blocked shots. The all-star’s downfall were his six turnovers. But his turning the ball over isn’t anything new.
— Worst performance: I had to give this to Goran Dragic. The Heat’s all-star point guard finished with 10 points, but missed eight of 12 shots. He also had two turnovers and just one assist before being benched in the fourth quarter.
— Best defensive performance: This goes to Whiteside. The Heat center had three blocks in 18:17 of action. Two of those blocks came in the first quarter.
— Worst statistic: I had to give this to the Sixers’ being outscored 37-17 in the fourth quarter.
— Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers outscoring the Heat, 60-36, in the paint.
— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Sixers fourth-quarter performance. In addition to being outscored by 20 points, the Sixers committed five of their 10 turnovers in the quarter. Those five giveaways led to They also made just 1 of 4 foul shots.